Aug. 29, 2011
Watch Interview With Mary Vaccaro
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WEST POINT, N.Y. - Freshman volleyball player Mary Vaccaro played like a seasoned veteran in her collegiate debut at the Black Knights Invitational over the weekend. Not only did the standout performance result in Most Valuable Player honors, but also Army Athletic Association Athlete of the Week and Molten Patriot League Rookie of the Week plaudits on Monday. In addition, junior outside hitter Ariana Mankusgarnered her fourth career Molten Patriot League Player of the Week award.
Following the first weekend of competition for West Point's fall teams, Vaccaro became the first AAA Athlete of the Week for the 2011-12 season. This week also marks the first nomination period for Patriot League weekly awards.
A highly touted recruit out of Orinda, Calif., Vaccaro stepped right into Army's role as the team's starting setter and finished the weekend with two double-doubles (assists, digs) and an 11.75 assists-per-set average. She recorded 33 assists, 13 digs and four kills in her collegiate debut, which ended in a 3-0 sweep of Hartford on Friday afternoon.
Vaccaro went on to eclipse the 50-assist mark in each of the Black Knights' last two matches of the tournament, helping Army to a 3-0 mark and the event title. Vaccaro tallied 53 assists and played a vital role in the Black Knights' 3-2 comeback win over Missouri-Kansas City in the first-ever meeting between the two programs on Friday night. She went on to record a career-high 55 assists in a 3-1 victory over Bryant in the tournament's final match on Saturday afternoon.
The rookie's effort helped spur Mankus to a monster weekend and Monday's Patriot League Player of the Week nod. Vaccaro's go-to target in all three matches, Mankus averaged 4.42 kills per set and was named to the All-Tournament Team.
Mankus increased her offensive numbers in each match and capped the weekend with a stellar 23-kill performance in the Black Knights' 3-1 win over Bryant to clinch the tournament title. She hit for a .476 attack percentage against the Bulldogs and was just four kills shy of tying her career high mark. Mankus recorded her 25th and 26th career double-doubles (kills, digs) against Hartford and Bryant, respectively.
Along with honoring Mankus with all-conference accolades twice, the Patriot League has also bestowed nine weekly awards to the Lisle, Ill., native. Monday marked her fourth Player of the Week citation and she was named Rookie of the Week five times in 2009. Mankus is the only player in the league's volleyball history to win Patriot League Player and Rookie of the Year in the same season, which she also accomplished in 2009.
Army hits the road for the first time this season this weekend. The Black Knights travel back to Vaccaro's home state for the 33rd annual Community Bankers Classic at Pacific University, Sept. 2 and 3. Army will face Duquesne on Friday night, followed by the host Tigers and Mississippi State on Saturday. A live blog will be offered through www.goARMYsports.com for all three matches.